Successful performance of “Annie”, the world’s largest firefighting helicopter of its kindCorporate
- In three months, the S-64 Erickson Aircrane fought 30 fires in 16 communes, dropping almost two million liters of water. Annie left the Bío Bío Region, but concern over fires this season continues.
A quick and effective firefighting attack, dropping a great volume of water, was the feature that allowed the S-64 Erickson Aircrane known as Annie, gain such recognition this season.
During the three months it remained in the area, the world’s largest firefighting helicopter of its kind fought 30 fires in 16 communes, performing 197 drops of 10,000 liters of water each, for a total of almost two million liters.
This helicopter spent the last 90 days stationed at ARAUCO’s forestry headquarters, located in Santa Juana commune, from where it flew to the different emergencies. After leaving the area the aircrane headed to Santiago where it will participate in Fidae 2018, Chile’s International Air and Space trade show, to be held this weekend.
Great firefighting capacity
‘Annie’s arrival to the Bío Bío Region last December, and its incorporation into ARAUCO’s firefighting fleet allowed for greater operational capacity to quickly suppress fire outbreaks, mainly in interface areas located near populated sectors.
Annie crew member Paul Farrer said “the greatest difficulty we had was the language because our team is made up of different nationalities, but we encountered a very professional company, with an excellent safety system and environmental management in place, and it was a great experience for everybody”.
Copilot Felipe Salini said that “in spite of the expertise of all the pilots and crew members fighting fires, this was a learning experience for all and we were able to see what Annie is capable of”.
The season is not over yet
ARAUCO’s Public Affairs assistant manager, Patricio Eyzaguirre, highlighted Annie’s accomplishments, as well all the work done on fire prevention and combat that began a year ago, after the mega fire that occurred last season.
Eyzaguirre said that even though Annie finished her mission in the area the season isn’t over yet and most of the company’s land and heliborne crews, day and night crews, airplanes, fire lookout towers and operation headquarters, among other resources, remain active.
“This has been an intense season, which allowed us to develop what we learned last year. We are optimistic with the results achieved to date, but it’s important to emphasize that the fire season isn’t over yet, there still remain a number of weeks of risk, and therefore, we will maintain our resources deployed for fire combat in the different areas”.
- The aircrane’s qualities allow for fast and effective firefighting with a large volume of water, facilitating work for fire squads
- It can perform up to 10 missions per hour, which means an increase in fire quenching capacity.
- Flight range of 246 nautical miles.
- It is 21 meters long, equipped with 6 blades, and has a rotor diameter of 21.2 meters.
- It has a full system for fire combat that involves a “snorkel” device to load water by suction. “Annie” takes 45 seconds to refill its main tank with 10,000 liters of water and has 8 different coverage levels, from partial drops to full discharge of the load in 3 seconds.